Marcel Dzama at David Zwirner - Brief Article
Art in America, Feb, 2001 by Edward Leffingwell
Fixed to the walls with map pins, the hundreds of ink and watercolor drawings that papered the gallery for Marcel Dzama's exhibition followed the random organization of recurring themes peculiar to his bestiary of manic obsession and bent desire. Dzama's peaceable kingdom is a cheerfully noirish place, where knife-wielding femmes fatales, dybbuks, caped crusaders, anthropomorphic trees and clouds, dancing bears and crocodiles rollick together with lewd and murderous intent, the spawn of a culture whose parables and fables still illustrate the consequences of human folly. In this weird world, man, woman, child and beast are the same beneath the costume and the mask.
Dzama's endearing monsters reveal what evil lurks within as they attract, destroy, devour and excrete each other and the instruments of their destruction. Stylish beyond fault, these characters sport dapper outfits from other times. Gimlet-eyed women don cloches and gowns cut from the fabrics that their victims wear, and, with thin-lipped men in uniforms, sack suits and hats, they affect cigarette holders, smoke a lot, shoot guns and are cavalier in the knife-play department. We see disintegrating limbs and amputations. Figures breathe flames and exhale little bears and bubbles in the shape of heads and hearts, barf bear cookies and, in coprophilic moments, shit out snakes. Naked except for his mask and cape, Batman endures unspeakable pleasures at some virago's hand, while a smartly turned-out counterpart in the A-emblazoned mask of Captain America smokes a cigarette and converses with a full-grown lion, dandling its cub, relaxed. Perhaps because Dzama lives in Winnipeg, there is a Canadian subtext that runs like a current through his work, including a "blue water" motif and another of the "land of the bat," where "Count Dracula proclaims his message of damnation to the government of Canada."
In his middle 20s, Dzama is fastidious and compulsive in his work without being fussy. His drawings demonstrate a consistent economy of line and muted color, with subjects centrally located on elegant expanses of buff manila paper. As though to make light of his metier, he caricatures the artist as an angry, fashionable young woman busily pouring glue on a bird to be added as an element in a growing pile of owl, rabbit, crocodile, parrot, bat and lizard. Louche and breezy, Dzama draws freely on the Gothic adventures of the Brothers Grimm and the would-be-grownup sleuthing of Nancy Drew and the sons of Fenton Hardy, infecting the genres with a winsome and perverse horror that today seems fresh and new.
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COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group
Bibliography for "Marcel Dzama at David Zwirner - Brief Article"
Edward Leffingwell "Marcel Dzama at David Zwirner - Brief Article". Art in America. Feb 2001. FindArticles.com. 23 Sep. 2006.